Looking back at the dogs on the Titanic

Dogs on the Titanic (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Dogs on the Titanic (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) /

There were a handful of dogs on the Titanic on its fateful journey.

There were a handful of dogs on the Titanic during its journey across the Atlantic in April 1912.

Given that the richest and most influential people of the day were passengers on the debut trip of the fanciest sailing vessel in the world, of course some of them would have brought their canine companions along with them. And only first-class passengers were allowed to bring their pets, of course.

So there were a dozen dogs on board, according to a 2014 article in Smithsonian Magazine. Of these dozen dogs, three survived after the ship hit the iceberg and sank – two of them were Pomeranians and one was a Pekingese.

They didn’t exactly have imaginative names, though – two of them were Dog and Kitty (how embarrassing), and a Chow Chow was simply called Chow Chow.

One of the Poms belonged to Henry Harper, the heir of publishing giant Harper and Row, and his wife Myra. The other dogs that didn’t make it included a couple Airedales, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a French Bulldog, a Fox Terrier and a Great Dane.

The owner of the Great Dane was a woman who refused to be parted from her dog, Smithsonian Magazine reports, which seems like devotion carried way too far from the benefit of hindsight, but in the panic of the moment becomes more understandable, though no less sad. The Dogington Post says that this woman was middle-aged, and her name was Anne Elizabeth Isham.

The story of a Newfoundland named Rigel who saved some passengers, who belonged to one of the ship’s officers, popped up shortly afterward in the pages of the New York Herald, though there is no evidence that a Newfy was ever onboard, much less saving people.

Children’s author Jean Hiatt Harlow loosely based two novels (Star in the Storm and Thunder from the Sea) off her own family history, however, where Newfies did save relatives from the sea, so it’s plausible that that story got started.

The Dogington Post reports that an informal dog show was planned for April 15, 1912, as part of the activities of the voyage. This obviously didn’t happen, as that was the night the Titanic sank.

A survivor named Helen Bishop had her Toy Poodle Frou-Frou along, who at point clung to her dress before losing grip and drowning.

A fox hunting enthusiast named Charles Moore, who lived in the Washington, DC area, was planning to ship a significant amount of Foxhounds over, but at the last minute he changed the ships his cargo would be ferried on, the Post reports. Unfortunately, Moore perished, though his Wikipedia page states that for many years his estate was used as the Canadian embassy.

Next. A retrospective look at Rin Tin Tin. dark

Nearly two-thirds of the first-class passengers survived, states the website TitanicFacts.net, though only about 37 percent of total passengers escaped.

We hope you enjoyed this look back at the dogs on the Titanic. If you’d be interested in joining our team as we cover canine sports, entertainment and pop culture, you can apply here. It’s a volunteer role at the moment, though we’re working growing the site to the point where contributors can be paid.